YOU ARE THE FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF LEE MARINE. HOW DID THE COMPANY COME ABOUT?
I’m often asked this. The short story is I was living and working in Hong Kong when the July 1997 handover came along and the company I was working with decided to relocate to Singapore. I took a break and went to grab my 37ft sailing boat from the Whitsundays. Two friends and I sailed it to Singapore having a great time along the way. When I arrived the idea of wearing a suit and tie had lost its appeal and we ended up in Phuket. When I went to sell the yacht and return home, I found that there was no real yacht brokerage so Lee Marine was born.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE DEFINING MOMENTS IN YOUR 18 YEARS IN CHARGE?
Selling my first new Riviera in 1998 was definitely a defining moment for myself and the company. We learnt a great deal about after sales service, dealing with shipyards and high client expectation. Another one was the opening of our designer showroom combined with a fine dining restaurant, The Watermark, in 2003. In reality though the defining moments come about when important clients talk to their friends in a complimentary way about our products and service.
SINCE THE BEGINNING, YOU HAVE HAD A LIEUTENANT, GENERAL MANAGER, SHAREHOLDER AND CLOSE FRIEND IN MARTIN HOLMES (GM). WHAT’S BEEN YOUR SECRET TO A SUCCESSFUL AND LONG TERM PARTNERSHIP LIKE YOURS?
Respect, support, communication and a good sense of humor. Like most relationships.
HOW’S THE MARKET IN THAILAND?
Well if you think of what it was liked 20 years ago, it has shown astonishing growth without a doubt. I was here in the era of one marina with 20 berthed boats. Now we have 6 marinas and approaching 1500 berthed boats sothat probably answers your question. The cruising grounds have always been here but the infrastructure and professional services have been slow to catch up. Strangely the market is still predominantly boats with foreign owners, however the Thai market is strengthening and will only go in one direction.
WHATS HOT AND WHATS NOT IN YOUR RANGE OF BOATS FOR SALE AT THE MOMENT? ANY STAND OUT MODELS?
Depending on what you like, and of course your budget, but the most honest boats for cruising the tropics here are the Riviera’s for sure. But, if you want to splash out, then the new Pershing 70 would have to be the ultimate day boat for Phuket. For the world’s best flybridge boats with a ‘limousine ride’ the Ferretti Yacht range are simply the best you can get, but on a high performance Pershing Yacht you will see a lot in one day traveling at 45 knots in complete comfort. The entire range of Pershing Yachts would have to be my personal favorite.
WHATS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR BUSINESS LIFE?
I can’t go past listening to a happy client explain their adventures on board. It’s very satisfying hearing (and sometimes enjoying with them) the priceless memories they have banked forever.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE SOUTH EAST ASIAN MARKET DEVELOPING IN YEARS TO COME?
In a word; strongly. High end luxury boating was always the preserve of the Caribbean and Pacific. Then, in the 50’s and 60’s, the Mediterranean came into the picture, but the new and yet to be fully discovered area has to be South East Asia. Governments need to work together in this tourism and hospitality sector to provide the permits, services and security required then it will boom! I recently returned from Raja Amput in Indonesia. If you haven’t seen it, trust me, it blows the traditional cruising areas of the world away.
ANY ADVICE FOR THE FIRST TIME BOAT BUYER?
Buy from a broker or dealer that is happy and passionate. They are usually the ones that don’t cut corners and provide the service level you expect from start to finish.
FAVORITE ANCHORAGE IN THAILAND?
Bhutan’s Koh Rawi
WHAT’S YOUR PET HATE?